School of Thought

Anupam Kher needs to stop misleading people

It is not India, but the government that is intolerant.

 |  School of Thought  |  3-minute read |   07-11-2015
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A day after Greenpeace India was deregistered by the government, Anupam Kher took out a “March for India” to oppose those who have been protesting against growing intolerance. Kher’s March was cheered by an English channel as bigger than the one taken out by the Congress earlier this week. The channel, in its haste to please someone somewhere, forgot that the Delhi Police had allowed the Congress to just bring 125 people for the March. In Kher’s counter-march however, there was no such limitation. Sonia Gandhi’s march was a protest march by a political party. Why did it have to be countered by a film actor is something only Arun Jaitley can answer – since he is the one who labels protests by intellectuals as politics (of Congress and the Left) “by other means”.

Kher’s march has had one great impact on the high stake and stressful debate on intolerance – it gave away the devious template of right wing propaganda. “We are going to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to tell the President that India is tolerant.” As if the President of India, who has warned the government thrice in a matter of one month over growing intolerance, needs an Anupam Kher to tell him that. As if India needs to be told that. 

It is not India, Mr Kher, it is the government of India that is intolerant. It is the ideology and elements patronised by the state that is stoking intolerance. World over, the right wing uses such devious arguments to counter any opposition to it. Ayn Rand termed it as “argument from intimidation” – “only those who wish to polarise the country say there is growing intolerance”; “those who are unable to accept Modi as prime minister, are returning their awards”; “those who were patronised by the previous regime cannot tolerate Modi”. 

Anupam Kher got a sample of intolerance from the party he supports (and his wife is a Member of Parliament from), when Yogi Adityanath, Kailash Vijayvargiya and others questioned Shah Rukh Khan’s patriotism – just because Khan voiced his opposition to the intolerance of ban-bandwagon. Until late last night, Kher kept making calls to various Bollywood stars asking them to join today’s March. Some of them would have joined him too, had it not been for the intolerant rants of some of his political colleagues in the BJP. 

Demonstrating his patriotic outrage, Kher claimed, “No Indian can tolerate when the nation is being insulted on a global level and there are those who are doing that right now”. If opposing the intolerant ideology of today’s ruling establishment amounts to insulting the nation, were you, Mr Kher, insulting India when you joined the Anna movement against corruption in 2012? 

I would not call it pseudo patriotism but isn’t this selective patriotism? 

“Prime Minister Modi has agreed to meet us this evening at 6.30pm, we are thankful to him”, beamed Anupam Kher at the end of the march. As if it came as a surprise to anyone. It is not as though the Prime Minister agreed to meet Zakia Jafri or the family of Akhlaq or the family of Vaibhav and Divya - the Dalit children killed in Faridabad.

I have admired Anupam Kher for his tremendous acting skills and saw Saaransh over a dozen times. Yet when he wears that look of a victim, it does not gel well at all, especially not when you are leading a state sponsored march in support of the state. He tried his best to have an appropriate expression of outrage against those who “just cannot tolerate to see Modi as the prime minister”. 

Victimhood of the King is not something people can easily relate to, in a country like ours. When you belong to the King’s team, even if you are a good actor, the role of a victim is the most difficult one. 

Before even saying yes to play this role, Kher should have seen the conduct of Corporal Mohd Sartaj, son of Akhlaq or that of Jitender, father of Vaibhav and Divya. They were victims of intolerance and did not need to do any role-play. And yet, they did not play victim. 


Pawan Khera Pawan Khera @pawankhera

Political Analyst working with the Indian National Congress

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